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Future leader in cancer research wins Picchi Award

Publish Date: 26/10/2017

The Leukaemia Foundation would like to congratulate to PHD Researcher Rebecca Delconte, who has won a 2017 Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre (VCCC) Picchi Award for Excellence in Cancer Research.

The annual Picchi Awards recognise and support future cancer research leaders from within VCCC alliance organisations. Ms Delconte was one of three outstanding students who received $10,000 to support professional development opportunities.

The support will enable Ms Delconte to travel and present her research alongside top immunology experts from around the world at the 17th Meeting of the Society for Natural Immunity Conference (NK2018) in San Antonio, Texas, United States.

Rebecca Delconte is investigating the role of natural killer (NK) cells in leukaemia. These specialised immune cells have the ability to detect and kill cancerous cells. However, leukaemia cells are able to evade NK cell death.

Ms Delconte said attending NK2018 was a career-defining opportunity.

“NK2018 is the leading international conference on natural killer (NK) cells, which are my passion and focus. I’m looking forward to hearing from, and presenting to, some of the best researchers in my field and sparking international collaborations,” Ms Delconte said.

“Collaboration in science is vital and I would not be where I am today without the incredible team of people I work with at the Institute,” she said.

 Ms Delconte’s supervisor, Dr Nick Huntington, said when Rebecca joined his team in 2013, she impressed him from the outset.

“Rebecca’s work has helped to advance our understanding of basic NK cell biology and identified NK cells as an important immune cell target in cancer immunotherapy,” Dr Huntington said.

“Rebecca’s dedication has already contributed to the publication of four papers, including papers in the two leading immunology research journals, Immunity and Nature Immunology, which is an impressive achievement for a PhD student.

“Rebecca’s research will contribute to better treatments for improving patient outcomes. She has a very bright future ahead," he said.

Peter Mac education manager Dr Caroline Owen said on behalf of the Picchi Awards selection panel that Ms Delconte had an exceptional track-record and would learn valuable skills as part of the professional development funded by the award.

“This is a well-timed opportunity to learn novel techniques in the burgeoning field of cancer immunotherapy,” Dr Owen said.

“The knowledge and skills Rebecca will gain abroad will benefit her career and further the work of her whole team at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute.”

Ms Delconte's research is one of the 14 promising blood cancer research projects that the Leukaemia Foundation is currently investing in. Click here to read more about her research work.


Press Release provided by Arunee Wilson, Media and Publications Officer, on +61 3 9345 2719, +61 478 714 757 or wilson.a@wehi.edu.au.

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